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As she hunted them, their hostess, moving
from seats near the minstrels to the circle
of the old carol dance, she knew some saw
her pointed shoes peek from her sweeping skirt
while other eyes weighed her heavy jewels.
She knew they saw the candlelight sparkle
on the butterfly veil fluttering
over abundant ebony curls:
against every intent of the garment
never concealing, rather revealing
though only that which she willed them to see.
She knew some saw the white chemise bursting
through subtly slashed sleeves, while others measured
the superbly-trained step of her servants
and delicate decadence of her hall.
She knew they saw all those things, only those
and none else, the mortals Janette hunted,
as she walked among them, smiling, and chose.
He saw all those things, their host, as he walked
with her, then alone, in the candlelight
skirting their guests, for he watched as they watched.
He saw all those things, as she intended
they be seen, but he alone saw more yet,
more than she would ever willingly show.
Like the mortals there, his eye and body
read the smooth round curves under red brocade.
Like the mortals there, he read the message
she meant to tell: that she was a woman
of station and wealth and beauty and sex,
available, to the best of the best
if they dared. But he alone of them knew
how little it meant, that moment of blood,
the length and the depth of a meal. He knew,
yet tonight Nicolas scowled at those
who wanted her as badly as he had
when his blood beat hot and human like theirs.
For he saw much more than the others could.
He knew when to look for the flashing mind
behind the languid eye, when to listen
for the supple laugh in the solemn mien.
He knew the greed that was the vampire
in Janette, and the greed that was the child.
Nicolas knew her in strength and command,
his conqueror, and loved her so. As well,
he knew Janette in the warm woman's heart
whose banked embers refused to be smothered
beneath immortal stone, and loved her so.
He knew the most the mortals saw of her
this sultry summer night was a shadow
of voluptuous temptation in red,
but she was all that is bright in his eyes.
As much better than they as he knew her,
by that much more did he desire her,
and his gaze followed her across their hall.
Janette frowned sternly as she felt his eyes
fix upon her, an articulate look
by which she told him to choose his meal
while the music played. The ambassador's
entire retinue stood before him,
and what was one stray foreigner come dawn?
Smiling again at her guests all around,
her hand brushed the arm of the second son
of a once noble house, now fallen low,
with only its high name and gentle blood
to sustain it and its blood, to Janette,
smelled sustaining indeed. Yes, this warm blood
would fill her with raw power, high pleasure,
until the empty body was found stabbed,
its light purse cut; she trained her servants well.
Janette found safe comfort in the knowledge
that this hunt and this night would roll behind
like all other hunts and nights. All but one.
And still she felt that one's eyes upon her.
Her Nicolas. Her choice, her dream, her love.
She felt his gaze caress her high, bare brow,
then slide down her throat and breast to the hand
holding folds of gown gathered at her waist.
Amused, the hostess tipped back her proud head
to meet his eyes. To be trapped in his eyes.
When had the knight become so much of her?
How had this Nicolas grown into all
that lifted her heart and brightened her world?
Worshipful, his gaze asked nothing of her,
nothing for her to allow or deny.
If she took the mortal there, before all,
Nicolas would not stop her, but with her,
by her word, would run from the broken code
or confront it. The mortal heart at hand
withered to a clumsy cacophony
while those bottomless eyes drew her to drown.
Nicolas watched her eyes rise to him,
blue sparks as scorching as the summer winds,
as oblivious to their guests as he
for all she admonished his attention.
Ignoring their guests was, her frown declared,
wasteful and rude, and she would have neither
in her home or her hall or her hunt.
Apologetically, Nicolas bowed.
He had no wish to tamper with her pose
in front of their guests, in front of their world.
Nicolas had no wish to reveal
the vampire behind her human screen,
nor the human longings still smoldering
under the glacier of vampiric ice.
He would not break her masks, his smile said.
Later, when he and she were all the world,
and she held him in her arms and her blood,
she would cast them off herself in his heart.
The shudder which ran through her slender frame
at the growing threat in that dear promise
was not visible, not even to him,
as she returned her gaze to her party,
her guests and her hunt. But the slick, sweet scent
of mortal blood slid away from her now,
a faint tendril of mist lost in the fog
of the feel of Nicolas's patient eyes.
His passion was ever both their pleasure,
but his devotion? To her, a terror.
When had he become so much of her self?
How had she fallen so far into trust?
What could she do, that he would cease to stare,
holding her fast with that still-shining soul,
loving her with all he was and could be,
asking nothing but that she love him too?
He asked nothing, just everything she was.
And if she stayed, someday she would give it.
Stronger than someday, Janette pressed the thought
down below her pride, down below her need,
down below this love like none she had known.
With a half smile, half nod, she ensured
that the younger son of the noble blood
would linger as the others departed.
But through candlelit hours of music
and talk, she could feel Nicolas waiting,
waiting, waiting for her, his molten voice
singing a long, slow kiss through the chamber.
Like the moist air, his waiting embraced her,
and when at last she drew her mortal meal
behind a pillar in the emptied hall,
she sighed to see into eyes untested,
not her Crusader's, bold, bright and fallen,
pure and depraved, each to its utmost end,
so like the consuming love he offered
which she had just begun to learn to fear.
Where the doors stood open to the garden,
his back to the all-but-empty chamber,
Nicolas waited. Where the heavy fruit
burst for ripeness and the vines split for sap,
he waited for her. Where the mossy earth
rolled softly into the sheltering dark,
the knight kept vigil. Only by her choice,
her word, her decision, could he free her
as he wished, unlocking the still-warm heart
she so rarely dared show even herself.
And so when she came to him there at last,
bathed in the scents of their garden that night,
slowly bursting apart under his lips
then melting back together in his arms,
he could not have imagined that one day
she would take back the key to all she was.
He loved her forever, and in the blood,
which bore no mask, she loved forever too.
The Forever Knight characters were created by James Parriot and Barney Cohen, are owned by the Sony Corporation, and appear periodically on the SciFi Channel; no infringement is intended. Please support Sony and SciFi in all their Forever Knight endeavors!
All characters and situations depicted in this fantasy fan poem are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to real people or experiences is purely coincidental.
Janette, "Partners of the Month" past:
"We have been building, Nicolas longer than the Medicis. Ninety-seven years is longer than any mortal marriage."
Janette, "Partners of the Month" present:
"I couldn't accept the depth of his feeling for me. I wasn't used to that."
The clothing and styles described in the poem come from James Laver's Concise History of Costume and Fashion, Scribners, 1969.
For the mechanically-inclined: the piece is pentameter blank verse in nine stanzas of eighteen lines each.
This poem is dedicated to Susan Garrett on the occasion of her birthday, 1999.
My thanks go to Jane, Shelley and Cynthia for their observant comments on drafts of this poem.
Please do not archive, post or otherwise distribute this piece. You're welcome to link to it here on my site. I wrote "Longer Than The Medicis" over the summer of 1999, posted it to fkfic-l on August 30, 1999 and coded it in HTML and placed it on this website September 5, 1999.
Thank you for reading. Comments and constructive criticism are always appreciated and, though sometimes it takes a while, are also always answered. Please email me or leave a comment on my LiveJournal or Dreamwidth.
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